It could be the first year in a decade that Oro Valley won’t have a Fourth of July celebration.
That’s the warning that the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council (GOVAC) has sent out to its members in advance of a Wednesday, Feb. 4, town council meeting.
The group has for 10 years organized the annual celebration at Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park with the help of individual donors, corporate sponsors and town financial support.
The group had requested $50,000 from the town to hold the event.
Later, at the behest of Town Manager David Andrews, the nonprofit lowered its request to $25,000. But, the group likely would have to find an alternative venue for the event.
“We can’t do it in the park for $25,000,” GOVAC Executive Director Kate Marquez said last Friday.
Because of the limited parking available at the park and restrictions against on-street parking along Lambert Lane, Marquez said a major expense came from renting shuttle buses to transport partygoers.
Transportation cost the group more than $17,000 in 2008, Marquez said.
Because of the cutback in support, GOVAC began looking for other sites for the Independence Day party.
The group has reached a tentative agreement with Vestar, which owns the Oro Valley Marketplace at Oracle and Tangerine roads.
Because the shopping center has numerous parking lots, GOVAC likely would not have to rent buses.
Last year, more than 8,000 people attended the event at Riverfront Park, according to GOVAC.
Budget concerns this year have the town council considering cutting its community funding contributions, including those that in the past have paid a portion of the town’s Fourth of July gala expenses.
The town may begin fiscal 2010 in $4.2-million hole, town officials have said.
Town council members met last month to discuss Fourth of July funding, but decided to postpone a decision until the Feb. 4 meeting.
“I find it difficult to believe we’re going to continue this discussion about spending town funding that we don’t have,” Councilwoman Salette Latas told fellow council members last month.
In addition to decreased financial support, GOVAC could wind up paying for police services. In past years, the town provided those services as a courtesy.
Police protection for last year’s Fourth of July event was estimated at $9,000, according to Marquez.
The town had no way to put an exact cost on the police protection for billing purposes.
This year, however, town officials estimate police protection for the July Fourth event could cost as much as $30,000, according to an exchange of e-mail messages between town officials and GOVAC dated Jan. 14.
“It’s so prohibitive that it’s almost impossible to hold a public event at a park in Oro Valley,” Marquez said of estimated police costs.
The e-mail sent by a town official also noted that a breakdown of in-kind vs. billable police services had yet to be determined.
Despite possible funding cuts, GOVAC leaders say their relationship with the town remains strong.
The town has contributed more than $1 million to GOVAC since 2000.
Group leaders say the town’s contributions make up roughly 10 percent of GOVAC’s annual operating budget.
“We won’t stop lobbying for the arts in Oro Valley,” Marquez said, adding, “We’ll always try to work with the town.”
TOWN SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS
The town has a long relationship with the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council, giving the nonprofit more than $1 million since 2000-01.
* Includes $60,000 in emergency funding the town gave GOVAC in March 2008